|Vol. IV, No. 8
Heshvan 5607, November 1846
Directresses’ Annual Report of the Ladies’ Hebrew Sewing Society
Whilst the land teems with plenty, whilst the garners are filled with the rich products of harvest, shall we say, “Oh God, for thy bounty we thank thee;” or impiously believe “Mine own righteousness hath gotten me this?” “Open wide thy hand to thy needy brother,” is an imperative command, there is no reservation; He who giveth rain to the just and unjust, whose sun serves to ripen the sheaf of the scoffer, as well as the grain of the worshipper; who has mercifully granted to our need what had already been denied to our merits, demands that we open wide our hand to our needy brethren, that we judge with mercy and even where it condemns that we withhold not sustenance from him who requireth it.
Yet let us not be misunderstood. Whilst disclaiming discussion of an abstract question, we would not that these remarks should be considered as applied to the recipients of your bounty generally; very many instances of worth, integrity, and industry, urge us on, give us abundant evidence that your benevolence and effort are well bestowed. Put we are fain to acknowledge that there are some isolated instances where the claim of need has been paramount, that of worth less certain. Yet who knoweth? The kindly deed, the gentle word, may they not have wrought a change of spirit, have touched a chord of gratitude, that silently, but surely, is preparing the heart to that which is right in the sight of God? exciting to emulation of better things, converting an outcast of society into a useful member? And even should it fail of producing such an effect in those grown old in evil, the children who witness and partake of the benefit, we trust, will seek to know the source that bade to “open wide thy hand to thy needy brother.” Be it our province to teach them.
Who should be foremost in the good work, if not those to whom especially the mission has been entrusted to spread the knowledge of His laws? The sons and daughters of Jacob need to do good, for their own sakes, to prove their heritage in the sight of the nations. We may not, therefore, calmly abide whilst wo, or crime, or suffering, is around us; nor think our duty done when famine is driven from the door, and the saddened countenance once more beams with renewed hope; then, then is the hour to impress reverence for God and his laws, duty to themselves, to their fellow-Israelites, to society, in those who receive the bounty which drops from the hand of charity.
Of charity, as of mercy, it may be said that it twice blesses—him to whom it is given, and him by whom it is received; for, independently of the gratification of affording relief, there are seasons when the heart, bereaved of its hopes, its joy, turns from amusement, studies, and every-day pursuits, with the sad conviction of their insufficiency to bestow happiness, almost loathes the exertion that each requires. A voice of sorrow is heard, grief has rendered the sufferers more susceptible to its tones; to soothe it seems then an offering to the memory of those who are mourned for; the dead seem to smile approval, and thus the glow of chastened hallowed feeling is awakened, so that gradually, but surely, they who grieve are again arousd to the performance of the duties, to a participation of the pleasures, that God demands and society requires. May we not assume that He who hath demanded charity, benevolence, and kindness, has so ordered it for the very purpose that the trials may not subdue the spirit, to the utter prostration of our mental energies?
Whatever occasion is the era of commemoration, there can be no question of the tendency to perpetuate the object or purpose; whether it be civil, religious, or, as at present, one of charity, it gives vigour and renewed energy; because it induces reflection. We ask ourselves, whilst reporting to others, What have we done? A momentous question, involving, as it necessarily does, Have we disposed the means entrusted to our care in such a manner as is best calculated to promote present comfort and future good? Have we exercised the same care, like liberality, judicious discrimination with the funds of other associations as with our own contributions? By reference to the past year’s doings, we leave it to the judgment of those whose almoners we are, to decide. Five hundred and fourteen garments have been distributed to fifty-two persons, of whom forty-one were under thirteen years of age. The adults, with few exceptions, were sick. In two instances beds were provided: bedding in several. Recently a strange family, relying on their claims as such, sought the prosperity which seemed utterly beyond reach in their fatherland; benevolent hearts proved the hope not vain, and by their individual aid rendered ours almost superfluous; such aid as was needed was afforded, in cooperation with the Ladies’ Hebrew Benevolent Society; and the heart of the sorrowing stranger was made glad; and not less so those who first looked on that scene of destitution, now rendered one of comparative comfort by their prompt and active efforts. To those who would reproach the emigrants coming to us in their destitution, we would say, listen to their tale, they need no other vindication.
We are aware our donors require no thanks, but we cannot withhold acknowledgment of the combined liberality of Mrs. A. Hart, Mrs. John Moss, Mrs. E. L. Moss, Mrs. Joseph L. Moss, Mrs. W. Florance, Mrs. J. L. Florance, Miss Gratz, Miss. L. Florance, Miss R. Florance, Mrs. P. S. Rowland, Miss Pauline Cromeline, Mr. John D. Jackson, Mr. Andrade, Mr. B. B. Hart, Mr. Berg. Donations also were received from Mrs. Moses Cohen, Major Lazarus, Charleston, and Mr. J. B. Wolff, St. Thomas.
To the managers of the Hebrew ball, we are mainly indebted for the accession of funds that enabled us to meet the demands made on us. The Treasurer’s account of expenditure will prove how needful was their aid; to it we refer for the state of the funds.
Philadelphia, October 18th, 1846; Tishri, 27th, 5607.
At the annual meeting of the Female Hebrew Sewing society, held October 25th, 5607, the following ladies were elected officers for the current year: Miss Louisa B. Hart, First Directress; Miss Bluma Hart, Second Directress; Miss Julia N. Carvalho, Treasurer; Miss Amelia J. Allen, Secretary; and Misses Rachel Pesoa, Sarah Abrahams, Sophia De Young, Hester Stork, and Pauline Cromeline, Managers.
Julia N. Carvalho